Boston and Bibb lettuces are two varieties of a larger category of butterhead lettuces, according to the Food Lover's Companion. All butterhead lettuces are extremely tender, with smooth, loosely-coiled leaves. When we see them in the grocery store, they're often in plastic clamshell cases with a root still knotted at the bottom.
So, as we mentioned above, butter lettuce can be expensive for the amount you're getting. A head is usually a lightweight little fellow, sometimes no bigger than a grapefruit. Here's why we buy it anyway:
• The leaves have a sweet flavor that can make an amazing, beautiful salad with just a simple vinaigrette—no other toppings needed. In essence, butter lettuce looks fancy. That's all there is to it.
• We usually have a hard time eating a larger head of lettuce before it spoils. Butter lettuce is the perfect size for two big salads or a couple of nights of small side salads. Which means we're really getting our money's worth because we're not wasting food.
• The leaves are the perfect size for a sandwich, and they're almost never limp or weak. They have a bit of crunch and good texture.
• The leaves are also the perfect size and shape for rolling around something else. They work well for Asian chicken wraps or for curling around some tuna salad.
• We find that the core is crunchy but still tender and flavorful, so we rarely cut away a lot of it. We use the whole head (again, less waste).
We also find that it's a bit easier to wash, since the leaves are pretty loose. We've got half a head in our refrigerator right now, waiting for tonight's dinner.
What's your favorite lettuce? Any other butter/Bibb/Boston fanatics out there?